Hey SEOs, If Google Maps Calls, Don’t Answer

February 29th, 2012

The caller-ID said “Google, Inc.” I was intrigued.

The voice on the other line asked if I “serviced clients at this address”. I was busy servicing a client with the other hand (on the phone – get your mind out of the gutter) so I said that my clients were all over the world, which they are, including within a 5-mile radius of my location.

Then I asked the voice who she was and why she was calling. She said she was with Google Maps and they were just doing some quality checks. I had to go – see client servicing action above – and hung up.

Next thing you know I no longer have a listing in Google Maps:

That’s what I call a service without a happy ending.

Tags: Google Maps · Google Place Pages

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dan

    That’s totally bogus (not calling you a liar, calling the removal of your listing bogus)! I can’t believe they’d do that with so little information to prove it, but then again I guess it IS Google after all.

    How long after the phone call did you see your listing missing?

  • 2 Dj

    They deleted your listing? Two questions come to mind. Is your listing still listed in the backend of your places account? Was the Service Areas and Location Settings on your listing marked No (customers come to you) or Yes (serve customers at their location)?

  • 3 Dave Oremland

    Andrew: Maybe it was Mrs. Page or Mrs. Brin.

    and that is what U get for pissing off the big kahuna.

    Hey it could be worse!!!

  • 4 Andrew Shotland

    So this is really my fault. The Google Places Guidelines specify that “Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a Google Places listing.” so I should have just said I did, which I do, just not at my home office, but when she asked if I serviced customers at this location I said “no” – was too busy servicing to think about what I was saying.

    That said, instead of deleting me, she could have told me what was going on. Maybe I was shut down for a few weeks after the fire that happened because I fell asleep while smoking shortly after the servicing.

    DJ, the listing was set to I service customers at their locations and the service area was set to 20 miles.

  • 5 Andrew Shotland

    The call happened on the 24th and I noticed on the 28th, but wouldn’t be surprised if it happened right after I hung up.

  • 6 Steve

    A similar thing happened to me. I’m based in the UK (in Cardiff) and reported my company’s listing because Google had automatically (but incorrectly) changed the address. She said she was from Google and just wanted to confirm and double-check the details. A few days afterwards, I noticed our address was showing correctly again. Guess I got lucky (and you weren’t do lucky)!

  • 7 Jim Jaggers

    Ouch. Do you still have a Place Page claimed? Is it still active?

    I expected to find a removed POI in MapMaker; but I didn’t even see you there.

  • 8 Nyagoslav

    Interesting. Had you set a service area prior to that unhappy ending business? And have you checked the box that says that you service clients at their location?

  • 9 Chris Gregory

    Andrew do you actually get business from your GP listing? I have only been able to pull a 7 pack listing for one of my local SEO searches and even then could never reproduce it. Just curious.

  • 10 Andrew Shotland

    I probably have received <10 leads from it over the past few years.

  • 11 Andrew Shotland

    Nyag, Yes and yes.

  • 12 Andrew Shotland

    Jim, as discussed on G+, this was not some kind of mistake. This was a targeted hit. My Places Page sleeps with the fishes.

  • 13 Scott

    I’m curious Andrew, what does your dashboard look like? Does it show “suspended”, or is your listing actually missing? Or does it look normal and link to the “We do not support this location” screen.

    At a recent event here in Portland I was complaining to the Google Places folks about the same thing – a phone call leading to a vanished listing.

    I used the example (one of several) of my neighbor, who’s wife works from a home office doing the bookkeeping and scheduling appointments, while he drives his A/C and furnace repair truck all over town fixing and replacing units.

    That’s a perfectly legitimate business, but I was told “yeah, but it’s not a place. Google Places / Maps only wants destination locations.”

    I was stunned and think that’s ridiculous – If someone a few blocks away needs furnace repair, he’s certainly a likely candidate, isn’t he?

    I think Google really needs to reconsider the whole “destination” aspect of what they are trying to do with “Places”.

    Ask 9 out of 10 people and they likely assume that a service business could and should be included in the listings.

  • 14 Stuart Draper

    I wonder if you hadn’t hung up and explained yourself if she would have left your listing alone or if she would have still deleted it.

    You already created a new one, right?

  • 15 Andrew Shotland


    In typical Google UI fashion there is no message or indication in the dashboard. In fact there’s a “See Your Listing in Google Maps” link that when clicked takes you to a page that says “We currently do not support the location”. In total agreement on the non-Place-Place use case.

    I probably could have backtracked and it would have been fine, but I think they have it in for SEOs who don’t have an “office”.

    I have not created a new one yet. I submitted a “problem with my listing” report and am curious to see what kind of response I get.

  • 16 Tom

    I find it surprising that you would hang up on someone from Google Maps, then be surprised when you lost your listing.

  • 17 BellaPiel

    This isn’t the half of it. I get called about 3 times a week by people claiming to be “from Google” and they want to “verify my listing” and also talk about “increasing my online presence” and “optimizing my page views”. Run a text search of the phone number these bozos are using; you’ll find records of numerous people harassed by these fake Google Telemarketers.

  • 18 Tommy Griffith

    This is really interesting. At SMX West, a few of us were discussing the old NYT article on the Seattle locksmith Google Places manipulation debacle. I wonder if that exposé had anything to do with Google running a tighter ship with their places and map listings.

  • 19 Geoff Simon

    The article in the Times was about lead gen sites hijacking addresses that weren’t theirs, Google sorted that out by using postcard verification for many businesses who subsequently got cleared out. This current housecleaning sounds like something different.

  • 20 Lesley

    That is seriously scary! What if that was a places listing client of an SEO company and they said the wrong thing without realizing? All that work gone!

  • 21 Blair

    That’s just downright dirty. A manual deletion based off a phone call? I can’t even imagine all the human errors that will result in SMBs getting their listing deleted. Glad this wasn’t a huge lead gen source for you. What a load.

  • 22 Jennie

    If one of your listings shows as ‘this listing is no longer supported,’ click on the Edit link in the Places account and it should force the listing back online.

  • 23 Robert Fisher

    Andrew, I was alerted to this post by Miriam over on SEOmoz. Number one, the double entendre use here is excellent (most use it poorly). Number two: what a poor way for them to deal with this. But, it was likely more about the person calling you than a general Google “thing.”
    Having dealt with a lot of Places issues with clients I feel your pain, but this is priceless…in a bad way. I did search just now and using your business name you do come up with a Places listing in maps. Will follow to see how it goes over time. Thx to Miriam.

  • 24 Andrew Shotland

    Nice to see you here Robert. Here’s how the issue was resolved http://www.localseoguide.com/the-non-place-place-use-case/

  • 25 Kishore

    Ha ha…

    The title you have named is enough to make me laugh(sorry friend m not joking, but i couldn’t stop me.. ) just find this after reading a Bolg on SEOMOZ.org by MiriamEllis.

    Definitely, i would follow it.. won’t reply at all.. :)

  • 26 jay

    I also ad a maps page with reviews from 1996 and now there gone. first skype sold my custom phone #(A few weeks late on a payment) number that I had for years and so I tried changing it on my google maps-reviews page. well now that page is gone and it gets better the links in my emails (how to get to jays shop and reviews from my customers) is forwarding it to my competitors shop, i made the mistake of setting up this acct. for my buddy’s shop who has since died (new owners now) and could care less about the opportunity I set up for him with google. this came back to bite me .. HOW DO I CONTACT GOOGLE TO FIX THIS ? HELP PLEASE, I’M LOSING BUSINESS AND MAY NEED TO CLOSE MY SHOP this has been 3 months now.. jay

  • 27 mannyknowsit

    My client says its a foreign voice. Same exact number and when you call number back it says google maps. Their location has disappeared. Vanished!

  • 28 mpoulton

    I think our company had the same problem. There were multiple Google Places pages listed for our company. I used Google’s tool which allows you to request duplicates to be removed. Instead of removing the duplicates Google removed the places page we wanted to keep. I used the report a problem feature. Several days later I got a call asking if we service people here or at their location. I don’t remember what I said but soon after I noticed that I couldn’t even click on the “See your listing on Google Maps”. I’ve asked Google several times for assistance, and have used the support forum : http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!mydiscussions/business/EfJjSyi6G3s

    Today I got a call from Google, it was the same person I talked to months ago. She asked if I was still having problems. I said yes, I places page says it’s still pending. She gave me a support number to call (the one you mentioned 650-253-2000). The problem is the number does not accept inbound calls! Ever since our places page was removed we’ve seen a huge decrease in our leads. So frustrating! Thanks for your insights.


  • 29 Andrew Shotland

    Gotta love a help number that doesn’t take inbound calls :)

  • 30 Andrew Shotland

    Sorry to hear about your issues Jay. I did a quick search of your phone number in Google and I think you’ve got a bunch of data issues that you need to clean up. For example, this is your Yelp page http://www.yelp.com/biz/when-service-calls-longwood which is a totally different business name than Pool Pump Repair Guy Motorwiz which is different from the biz name on your website.

    I am only guessing here, but when you did the update to your Google+ Local page (the Google Maps reviews page), this triggered Google to automatically review the page which then got purged/overwritten because of the conflicting data. Of course Google+ Local is so flaky, it could just be an issue on their side that you’ll have to wait for them to resolve.

    I would try notifying them via the Report a Problem tool here http://support.google.com/places/bin/static.py?hl=en&ts=1399021&page=ts.cs

  • 31 Andrew Forster

    Hey Andrew,
    I had a similar phone call about 2 months ago: http://www.adster.ca/blog/a-call-from-the-google-maps-team-confusing-absolutely
    I was aware of the phone call and it still took me off guard….

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